What the heck is going on with Educator Evaluation?
On Thursday, March 5 there was a public hearing on proposed changes by the Maine Department of Education to our Educator Evaluation law and rules. The room was packed with MEA members, students and interested community people. This is a small part of what I testified to:
“MEA knows there is one change that is now required by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) to maintain an Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver. That change is a very difficult one for MEA to swallow. We do not believe that high-stakes standardized testing is good for our students, nor do we believe the resulting scores are accurate representations of our students’ success. We do believe that using scores for any amount more than minimal percentage of student growth is reckless—under no circumstances should it be more than 10%.
However, MEA cannot be the blocker to Maine’s ESEA waiver. Therefore, we are compromising in this one change—one big change—and that is the use of student assessment scores as one measure of student growth. I stand before you knowing that our students’ learning will not benefit from using student test scores in teacher evaluation, and research supports our position. MEA hopes however, that in maintaining the waiver, our schools’ financial support from both the State and Federal government will be maintained and that we do no harm to our public community schools.”
In one sentence: Yes, MEA agreed to accept student assessment as a part of student growth measurements because Maine would have lost the ESEA waiver without it.
The USDOE told stakeholders there are also additional, less onerous changes that the Maine DOE needs to make. MEA worked to keep these to a minimum since so many of our districts are already well into plan development.
Though the Educator Evaluation process was long, at times frustrating, and often required compromise I believe that we now have the time necessary to do the job correctly, as well as necessary supports in place for an evaluation system that will improve our public schools.
You can access additional information at www.maineea.org/teacherevaluations